Located in Longmont, CO, Warrior Playground is a full-scale American Ninja Warrior and Obstacle Course Race training facility for kids and adults.

© 2019 Warrior Playground.

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Our Team

The Warrior Playground staff is always ready to be of service. Whether you are a first timer with no prior experience or a seasoned veteran who wants to find new ways to become a better ninja. Our classes and private lessons are led by an experienced group of ninjas with a passion for teaching every aspect of the sport of Ninja Obstacle Competition & how to just have fun on any Playground.


"The World is your Playground"

Joseph Mendoza

Performance Director, Fitness & Nutrition Coach

Joseph believes that all must “Create their own reality” in order to achieve anything in life. He guides individuals to believe they can always reach the next level by never giving up or giving in to the easy road. Joseph loves to inspire people to become stronger physically, mentally and emotionally for life. He educates his client’s about the importance of setting realistic goals, the benefits of holistic nutrition and other wellness strategies that support a truly healthy lifestyle.

Joseph has been in the fitness industry for 10 years and counting. He received his undergraduate degree from Metropolitan State University of Denver in 2012 in the field of Human Sports Performance with a focus on Adult Exercise and Science. One of Joseph’s top selected achievements was his experience in his internship with Steadman Hawkins Clinic (Human Sports Performance) where he was mentored by Loren Landow.

Melanie Newkirk

Fitness Instructor & Personal Trainer

Melanie is a graduate of the University of Northern Colorado with a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science. 


While in college, Melanie was introduced to strength and conditioning and was quickly inspired to become an Exercise Science major. She served her internship at her local gym which included running weight loss challenges, and personal training.


Now, Melanie has found that her passion is helping and encouraging others to reach their personal goals. Melanie teaches horseback riding lessons to students of all ages and conducts training classes at The Warrior Playground for the Grit Fit Challenge.

Ryan Hughes
Ninja Instructor

Hello, my name is Ryan Hughes. I recently moved from New Mexico to Colorado to pursue a Master’s degree and to be near the mountains. My athletic background includes five years of competitive gymnastics, which I also have been coaching for seven years now to put myself through school. Other sports I have a background in include soccer, swimming, pole vault, climbing, and parkour.  I started my training for American Ninja Warrior three years ago and I qualified for the UNAA national final in its first year. I’ve been coaching ninja obstacles for two years now and I'm excited to be a part of Warrior Playground’s future. 

Ninja Status:

2017 UNAA National Qualifier

Sam Banola

Owner/ Ninja Instructor/ Personal Trainer

Health and fitness has been a part of Sam's life – for nearly all of his life. His passion for athletic competition has personally led him to training for and competing in a wide variety of sports including boxing, football, mountain biking, snowboarding, soccer, Xterra triathlons, Wrestling, and of course -Ninja Warrior.

For the past 20 years Sam has been both a student and practitioner of health and fitness, helping clients to get leaner, stronger, and more flexible. As such, he has been learning how to improve upon the process with each successive client.

Sam's extensive experience in exercise science and training for sport - allows him to identify specific movement skills that need to be improved and how to strengthen the muscle groups that will enhance that particular skill. Whether for Ninja Obstacle Course work or endurance based obstacle training, Sam can create a program to make you a better competitor. Sam has a B.S. in Exercise Science an M.S. in Cardiac Rehab, and has been a certified strength and conditioning coach through the NSCA since 1996.

Ninja Status:

2019 CNL Season 2 Champion (40+ age group)

2018 UNAA World Championships 3rd Place (40 + age group)

ANW Minneapolis Season 10 Competitor 

ANW Denver Season 9 Course Tester

4X UNAA National Qualifier (2016, 2017, 2018,2019)

2018 UNAA Regional Champion (40+ age group)

2017 UNAA Regional 3rd Place

2017 Wolfpack Ninja Tour 2nd place (40+ age group)

2016 UNAA Regional Champion

2016 WolfPack Ninja Smackdown Finalist

2016 Warrior Playground Skills Challenge Champion